When fear strikes, there’s usually are two things a writer does. Keep on writing, or hide from it.
Hiding from it can take different shapes and forms, from procrastinating to avoiding your writing area altogether for a length of time. Fear is such a great illusionist, and it can truly feel big and terrifying. You can dial down its hold on you by asking the question that titles this post: What is the worst that can happen?
To illustrate that, three examples.
When you submit a story, what is the worst that can happen?
The answer could be rejection, and I know from experience that it does feel really bad.
Just keep telling yourself this:
- The publisher has rejected your story, not you.
- There are so many markets, you can find another one without much fuss (just look at Duotrope if you don’t believe me).
- Take things step by step. Instead of anticipating the worst before you’ve even finished the story, first edit it. Then when your story is edited, let someone else read it. Then find a market for it, or choose to go the indie route and find out what you need for that. Taking it step by step keeps anxiety at bay.
When you choose to abandon a story, what is the worst that can happen?
The answer could be disappointment in yourself.
How can you cure that disappointment? By immediately starting a new story, or by taking out the core idea of the trashed story and start anew.
Or you can let it sleep for a couple months until you find out what isn’t working for a story.
When you don’t get inspired, what is the worst that can happen?
The dreaded blank page. The writer sitting behind her desk, staring at it, willing words to appear. You can cure that by playing. Just open up a dictionary on a random page and pick a word, or pick a random word from a novel you love. It’s your game.
Let a character you love (either one of yours or a character from a favourite book or tv show) play with that word and see what comes.
Also, remind yourself that you write for yourself first and foremost. You write what you want to read (at least, that’s what drives me).